Source: Rail Technology Magazine Feb/March 2012
Bombardier’s decision to keep open its manufacturing facility at Derby, albeit with fewer workers following its decisions on jobs last year, means people’s worst fears about the future have been avoided.
Paul Roberts’ statement was positive, focusing on its recent and potential contract successes – the Southern Electrostars and pantograph-equipped eVoyager units for CrossCountry – as well as the Government’s commitment to improving infrastructure and the company’s own commitment to the UK, but this was hedged by his reference to Crossrail, which remains the major factor in the company’s long-term future as a British train manufacturer.
There is furious lobbying going on over the financing of the rolling stock as part of the project, but all indications are that its sponsors and the Department for Transport are preparing to let the contracts on a similar basis to that used for Thameslink rolling stock, meaning financing the deal will have to be a key consideration for the eventual winner. As explored in our last issue, it is widely held that this gave Siemens a key advantage last time, due to its parent company’s financial history and credit rating.
In his statement, Roberts said the company’s board “hope to see” financing unbundled from train selection, as recommended by the Transport Select Committee, and an analysis of socio-economic issues in making the value-for-money assessment, as demanded by rail unions, many MPs around the country and civic leaders in Derby who say the potential costs to Derby of the plant closing down need to be taken into account in the tender process in a way they were not for Thameslink.
Whatever happens to Derby, there are still jobs being created in the UK rail industry. The Intercity Express Project, unloved by many, is coming closer to financial close and will provide plenty of temporary and permanent jobs, while Crossrail is not far away from its major construction phase, to name just two sources of job creation.
Clearly permanent and sustainable engineering jobs are the holy grail, and it is these that will be under discussion at iRail 2012 in Derby on March 15.
Last year’s event was inspiring and a lot of fun, and we saw for ourselves how these engagement events are helping school pupils with the right talents consider a career in rail – a thought that, for many of them, had never previously crossed their minds. We need to ensure the right jobs are ready for them.
Adam Hewitt, Editor.